Her request floored me.
She said her family was massacred. Could she get Nomer Lasala’s number, please? She wanted to ask his help in finding the criminals.
To say I was taken aback was to understate my reaction.
Those who have followed this blog may still remember that I have always advocated against issuing disclaimers when performing magic or mentalism (see Bursting Illusions with a Disclaimer). My logic is that people are smart enough to know the difference between an illusion and reality, pretend and genuine feats, real skill and fakery.
I always use my knowledge in magic and mentalism for entertainment, the escapist kind. I don’t perform magic or mentalism to convince people of my powers or extraordinary skills. Trying my hardest best to make people believe I’m the real-deal is not part of my agenda in life.
Neither is conviction beyond theater part of the agenda of other performing arts. Thus a person who comes out of a movie theater doesn’t go home believing that Sylvester Stallone, as Rambo, killed hundreds of bad guys with five minutes of machine-gun fire. Movie-goers just know that what they saw on the big screen was just make-believe.
People who have watched The Sound of Music stage play at Resorts World Hotel don’t go home believing those seven, beautiful singing children are all the offsprings of the actor playing Captain Von Trapp. Members of the audience know that the young actors were just pretending to be the children of the actor playing their father.
When someone puts down Robert Ludlum‘s bestselling book titled The Bourne Identity, the reader doesn’t believe a CIA-trained assassin named Jason Bourne actually exists. The reader knows what he has read and vicariously experienced in the book is fiction.
For this matter, movie-makers, stage play producers, and fiction publishers don’t issue disclaimers warning audiences that what they saw and read are not real and should not be accepted as genuine.
If other forms of entertainment find no need for disclaimers, I can’t understand why magic and mentalism need to issue one. As I have said countless times before, I trust the audiences’ intelligence. People should know that magic and mentalism are entertainment, and as such they are merely make-believe. They should not be taken and accepted as genuine at all.
Alas, I just had an epiphany and realized a brutal truth. While in most part audiences are smart, not every spectator has the proper frame of mind to know the difference between make-believe and real. Some of them are not in the right emotional state to handle the effects of what they may have witnessed in a magic or mentalism show. They go home and believe the magician or mentalist can help them in their real-life problems, merely by using his magic and “psychic ability” to trouble-shoot people’s difficulties in life.
Having mused upon this verity, I now revise somewhat my policy on this matter…
I still will not issue a disclaimer during the show, or even right after the performance. My idea is to help audiences suspend their disbelief and enjoy an escapist entertainment, which is what magic and mentalism are about.
However, if after the lapse of hours, or days, and a member of an audience can’t get over what he saw, can’t snap out of his state of misimpression, then I need to issue a disclaimer when he calls me and asks for a practical application of the magic and mind-reading in his life.
So to the lady who called, I told her gently that what she saw Nomer Lasala and David Elefant do on TV was just entertainment. I explained that as entertainers they are not trained to track down criminals.
I told her also, in less amplified way I’m doing now, that magic tricks (book tests, predicting chosen cards, finding hidden objects), or mentalism techniques (center tears, forcing book pages, blindfolds) have no practical application in hunting down murderers. Whom she needs to approach instead is someone who has police training and knowledge in forensic and criminal investigation.
So to the readers of this blog who may be planning to call me to seek relief from their life’s tribulations, let me say this as clearly as I can: magicians and mentalists are entertainers, not criminal investigators, not problem solvers.
Anybody who claims he can find criminals, talk to the dead, and predict the future for real just because he knows how to perform a book test using a gaffed book is lying through his teeth, gums and cavities. Eschew him as you would eschew pretentious words like eschew.
Take that as my clearest disclaimer of all time
- A Lady in Distress Seeks Leodini’s Help (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)
- What’s the Difference Betweem Mental Magic and Mentalism? (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)
- Help! I Want to Be a Mentalist (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)